How to reduce dog aggression and attacks

Vets4Pets share advice to pet owners on how to recognise and manage territorial aggression in dogs.

Following the announcement that pet owners could now face a five-year prison sentence if they fail to prevent their dog from biting a postal worker, vets are revealing how to recognise and manage territorial aggression in dogs.

This comes as lockdown has led to a huge spike in home deliveries, many of which need photographic ‘signed for’ delivery due to social distancing, putting delivery staff at greater risk of coming into contact with dogs.

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Canine aggression remains a common problem in the UK and territorial aggression specifically continues to be particularly misunderstood.

“Many dogs that have never displayed territorial aggression before may also now have developed new behaviours after spending more time sharing their home and space with their owners during the lockdown. And so that, combined with the recent High Court ruling that dog owners can be criminally liable if their dog attacks a delivery worker, means it is now more important than ever that both pet and non-pet owners learn how to recognise aggressive behaviour in dogs and how to properly manage the situation in order to prevent the incident escalating into an attack.

“Aggression isn’t a personality trait or inherent characteristic of a specific breed, it is a normal part of canine behaviour, intended to signal when a dog is feeling uncomfortable and to enhance its safety from whatever it is finding threatening. This means that any dog can act aggressively if it feels threatened enough and its more subtle warnings are not being heeded. Dogs naturally place a high value on their home environment, or their territory, as this is where they have all their basic resources such as food, water, shelter and companions. Territorial aggression is triggered if they think that these resources are under threat from an intruder, and they feel the need to protect them.

“Just because their dog hasn’t bitten or attacked anyone, many owners believe their dog isn’t aggressive at all, but aggression can be very specific to situations and individuals and unfortunately delivery workers can be the target of this because of the job they do.”

Top tips on how to manage and prevent territorial aggression:

  1. Keep your dog securely in another room, with no physical or visual access to visitors, when opening the door
  2. Give them treats or a puzzle solving toy to occupy and focus their attention elsewhere when visitors knock. That way the dog should develop a positive association between the arrival of visitors with opportunities for high quality entertainment in an alternative part of the home
  3. Mount a letterbox cage inside the door, or alternatively fit a secure outside mailbox
  4. Do not leave your dog unsupervised outside in an area where it may come in to contact with visitors to the property
  5. Our attention is so valuable to our dog that even if we are reprimanding our barking dog they will enjoy that we are giving them some form of attention. Therefore, when visitors arrive it is best to remain quiet and calmly lead your dog to a secure area of the house instead
  6. Prevention is always better than cure, so when owners first get a puppy, they should socialise them with visitors, including postal workers, as often as possible so that they do not fear them. Delivery workers could even give them a treat at the door
  7. If you are concerned, then you should visit your vet for specific advice – they may well recommend working with a qualified dog behaviour counsellor


Only half of all cats receive regular veterinary care

A Royal Canin online survey reveals that 43% of all cats in the UK and Ireland have not seen a vet within the last year and 11% have never been to the vet.

The survey of almost 1,979 cat owners revealed that the main reason owners didn’t take their cat to the vet more often was because their pet appeared to be healthy and therefore didn’t need medical attention.

John O’Connor, Vet and Corporate Affairs Director at Royal Canin said, “Cats are very good at hiding when they feel unwell. A cat will often only show signs when a disease has reached an advanced stage. This stoicism can mean that cats often suffer in silence. Taking your cat for regular check-ups can detect any problems far earlier. Preventative veterinary bills are also likely to be cheaper than treating the illness once it has become more serious.”

Other barriers to vet visits

The second biggest barrier to more regular vet visits was cost. Although almost half of the cat owners surveyed had pet insurance, almost a quarter said cost prevented them from taking their cat to the vet more often.

Despite there being 760 cat-friendly clinics across the UK and Ireland, which are specially designed to reduce the stress for cats during visits to the vet, 13% percent of owners said the stress put them off making more frequent trips to the vet.

If they were unable to take their cat to the vet, 40% said they would arrange for a vet home visit, 29% said they would search for information online and 26% would turn to friends and family for advice.

Over a quarter of owners unaware that their cat is overweight

Only 11% of owners believed that their cat was overweight. In the UK 39% of cats are overweight* so this suggests that over a quarter of cat owners surveyed were unaware that their cat was above a healthy weight.

Elisabete Capitao, Vet and Vet Marketing Manager at Royal Canin said, “Cats with excess weight are at a higher risk of developing a number of serious and complex conditions but, most importantly, it may shorten their life expectancy by nearly 2 years.”

To find a cat-friendly veterinary clinic near you visit the Cat Friendly Clinic website, which is a run by the charity International Cat Care.


Keeping pets safe this autumn

PDSA offers pet owners’ advice on how to avoid toxic plants during autumn.

With summer nearly over and autumn just around the corner, the change of seasons can be a brilliant time for you and your pets to enjoy the beautiful scenery as the countryside and parks burst into colour.

It’s also important to be aware of season dangers to our pets. There are a number of innocent looking plants which can actually be very toxic and, in some cases, even fatal. It’s vital to know what to avoid.

PDSA vet Anna Ewers-Clark said: “Our four-legged friends are naturally very inquisitive and will often want to sniff out new smells and object. Knowing what to keep your pet away from can help keep them safe – and prevent any impromptu visits to the vets if they eat something that could be toxic.”

Poisonous plants to avoid:

  • Acorns– Mature acorns usually drop between September and October, but can be found on the ground for quite a while after this. Acorns can cause blockages when eaten by pets and can be toxic, especially if eaten in large quantities. They contain tannic acid which can lead to nasty vomiting and diarrhoea. Unripe, green acorns have higher levels of tannins than mature acorns so are more harmful when eaten, even in small amounts.
  • Yew Trees– every part of this tree is poisonous to pets and eating just a small amount can be very serious. They are often found in churchyards, so keep your eyes peeled there.
  • Horse chestnut trees– their bark, leaves, flowers, and conkers are all poisonous to pets. Conkers are also a choking hazard and can cause gastrointestinal blockages.
  • Autumn crocuses– these have pale mauve, pink, yellow or white flowers in autumn. All parts of the plant are highly toxic, especially the bulbs, so take extra care if your pet likes to dig

Anna adds: “When out walking this autumn, it’s crucial to be aware of any dangerous plants and trees that might cause harm to your dog. Keep a close eye on them, and try to walk your pooch somewhere you know is clear of toxic plants.

“If you know your pet has a habit of being a bit of a scavenger, you might need to take extra precautions like training them to use a basket muzzle while you’re out and about to prevent them picking up anything dangerous. It’s also a good idea to carry some tasty treats with you to tempt your dog away from anything dangerous that they might want to eat.

“Vomiting, diarrhea, shaking and abdominal breathing could all be signs that your pet might have eaten something poisonous. But even if your pet’s not showing any signs, if you know they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t, call your vet straight away.

“They will be happy to provide guidance on whether it’s likely to be dangerous for your pet and advise what you should do. The quicker you act, the quicker vets can provide essential treatment when it’s needed, which can reduce or prevent serious and sometimes, life-threatening problems for your pet.”

For more information on keeping your pet safe this autumn visit












RSPCA calls for law change as puppy imports more than double during summer

The RSPCA is calling for a change to the law to stop the importation of puppies from abroad which has soared during lockdown.

The latest figures for July and August, released by the government in response to a parliamentary question, show that numbers of licences issued for the commercial import of dogs more than doubled from 5,964 in June-August 2019 to 12,733 for the same period this year.

Many welfare charities have speculated that the number of pets taken on during lockdown has risen due to people being at home

These figures suggest that the rise in demand is duelling a worrying trend in popularity exploitive and damaging trade, which causes suffering to dogs.

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said: “These figures confirm our worries that the increase in the demand for pets during lockdown is fuelling this trade which puts puppies at very real risk of suffering.

“Buying an imported puppy leaves new owners open to the very real risk they are supporting cruel puppy farming, with the parents kept in awful conditions, used as breeding machines with sick and dying pups – and there is no real way of checking.

“Travelling long distances as a young pup is stressful and a real welfare issue. There are also risks of serious disease and future behaviour problems which can leave owners distraught. We in this country are used to being able to order exactly what we want which means if the breed of puppy is not available here, buyers go abroad. We want to encourage people to take their time and wait for the right animal and realise the benefits of rescuing a dog where great efforts are made to make sure you get the animal which is right for your family and circumstances.

“If people do choose to buy, there is always a risk of falling victim to poor breeders and unscrupulous puppy farms in this country too – which is why we always urge new owners to use the Puppy Contract.”

The RSPCA is calling for a change in the law to close this crucial loophole which allows the trade to continue.

Chris explained: “The third-party sales ban came in this year, which is designed to ensure puppies bred and sold in this country are kept in a way which puts their welfare first. Breeders must meet licensing conditions which mean that the puppies must stay with the parents and be sold from the home.

“However, the current law means that breeders abroad can get a vendor’s certificate to sell in this country as long as they are licensed to breed in their home country. There is no way of checking the conditions these puppies are kept in.

“We want a change in the law which changes the age at which a puppy can be sold from 15 weeks to 24 weeks. This would have a twofold effect: firstly, it reduces the value of the puppy when they are older which means that it makes it less attractive for people who are only interested in making money to take part in this trade; secondly, it is much easier to check the age of a puppy at six months than at 15 weeks, which makes it easier to enforce the law. This would go a long way to alleviating the suffering of these young animals.”







Hug your hound day: Survey reveals which breeds are the most huggable hounds

The second Sunday in September is Hug Your Hound Day—a whole day dedicated to displaying affection to our dogs.

Now, we’re pretty certain we don’t need a day to tell us to hug our hounds; we do it multiple times a day. But at the same time, we’re very excited a day like this exists so that we have an excuse not to let go of our furry friends.

Hug Your Hound Day was created by Ami Moore, dubbed the “Dog Whisperer of Chicago”, to reinforce the importance of having a long and affectionate bond between you and your pet, and how both of your health and happiness can be improved. The day encourages ways you can make your environment safer for your pet and to stop for a moment and truly appreciate them and how they impact your life.

In preparation for Hug Your Hound Day this Sunday experts at Butternut Box carried out a survey and collected 296 answers around which dog breed respondents think is the most huggable and the verdict is in.

Women adore Labradors

The majority of respondents, equating to 16%, agreed that Labradors are the most huggable pooches, with 18% being female and 14% male. According to the data, it seems that there are gender differences in which sort of dogs we think give the best hugs. The majority of men (17%) answered that Cockapoos were the most huggable. Both dogs are big and fluffy, so it seems those are the characteristics we value the most from a hug with our four-legged friend.

The runner ups are a variety of sizes and texture of fur, with Bichon Frise, Boxers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Huskies, and St Bernards all coming in a joint second.

How to celebrate Hug Your Hound Day

First, no matter what breed or size they are, give your pooch a hug and let them know how much you love them—tell them, too! If your dog is displaying any negative behaviours, try to put yourself in their paws and think of ways to remedy anxious or destructive behaviour. We know that modern life can be busy, but when you get in from a long day back at work, they may just be wanting more attention and affection off you.

Most negative behaviours are signals of unhappiness, so use Hug Your Hound Day the way it was intended—to display affection and recognise how we can create a safer and happier environment for our dogs.

If you don’t have a furry friend in your life, why don’t you spend the day visiting local animal shelters to see if you can bring a forever friend home—but only if you’ve been thinking about it seriously. Try to avoid bringing a dependent animal into your life because of lockdown. There are many rescue dogs that have been left without a home after owners realised that they weren’t ready for the responsibility. If you’re not prepared for a four-legged companion, then spend the day volunteering or donating money to your local dog shelter!

If you own a business, you could put measures into place to make your business dog friendly, so owners can bring their dogs when they venture outside. This can have tremendous effects for emotional wellbeing in work, with research showing that canine colleagues can improve both staff wellbeing and productivity—a win for everyone.

Why does hugging your hound feel so good?

Research reports that as well as tremendous emotional benefits hugging your dog can improve both your physical and mental health—reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, preventing heart disease, and helping fight depression. Physical affection also helps soothe your pet, so it is a mutually beneficial relationship!

So, celebrate the best day of the year with your dog. Why not take them for an extra special walk or feed them their favourite treats too?

To find out more about Butternut Box visit

Dog-friendly facilities boost bookings at newly reopened hotel

Pet-friendly holidays are on the rise after a surge in new pet owners and more people seek to holiday with their dogs, post lockdown.

A 70-bedroom hotel in the heart of Shakespeare country has reopened with premium dog-friendly facilities that have prompted a boost in sales.

The Charlecote Pheasant in Warwickshire has upgraded its amenities for four-legged guests and their owners, including a new menu for dogs and exclusive access to its Doggy Pit Stop.

This has resulted in more bookings than ever going to guests with dogs. On reopening last month, most of the rooms in the first week of trading were occupied with pet and family stays, and hotel staff report they are dealing with more pet vacation enquiries than ever before.

General Manager, John McGhee said: “It has been amazing. Since we introduced additional pet facilities, we have seen more bookings than ever with pet-friendly stays. I know our location helps with this, as we are so close to so many incredible country walks, and of course the boom in UK breaks this year has helped.

“I also think that post-lockdown and with some people still shielding, guests don’t have anyone they can leave the dog in the way they may usually do, and so when the family travels, so does man’s best friend.”

Earlier this month Vine Hotels added the Charlecote Pheasant to its growing portfolio of hotels and venues, which also includes five properties in Sheffield, the Best Western Cresta Court hotel in Altrincham and the Mercure Dolphin Southampton Centre hotel.

All Vine Hotels properties offer a pet friendly assurance, with dog-friendly bookings including exclusive access to the Doggy Pit Stop. Pets can enjoy unlimited complimentary dog biscuits, dog towels, poop bags as well as a handy place to hang dog leads, so they don’t get lost!

Among the huge choice of stylish, comfortable dog-friendly rooms at the hotel are executive and superior double/twin bedrooms, family rooms as well as the sumptuous Farmhouse Suite, featuring four poster bed, double bath and spectacular views across the rear garden.

Comfy dog beds are included in each, so that four-legged guests can rest as well as their owners.  Well-mannered dogs are also welcome throughout the Hotel, with the exception of the restaurant.

A new Doggy Menu is also now available to enjoy in the lounge. Your dog can dine on traditional roast dinner or sirloin steak, pet safe ice cream or bacon and eggs, and follow with a bowl of dog milk or dog beer (proof of age not required). More details at:

The Charlecote Pheasant is situated in the pretty Warwickshire village of Charlecote, close to Stratford-Upon-Avon, a family-friendly destination with lots to see for all members of the family – including the furry ones. Among the many beautiful places to explore with dogs include the National Trust’s Charlecote Park which is just opposite hotel. The dog walking route here takes between 20 minutes and an hour depending on walking pace and route.  Find out more

The popularity of dog-friendly rooms at the Charlecote Hotel mirrors an overall upward trend in people wanting to take their pets away with them post-lockdown.

Vine Hotels has seen an increase of 20% in dog-friendly room bookings across the board at its hotels. The surge in people buying puppies during the pandemic has been well-documented with organisations such as the Kennel Club reporting a 150% rise in enquiries for during the summer months. Google search analysis highlights that searches for ‘dog-friendly holidays’ in June and July 2020 were up by 50% on last year’s figures with similar search terms all seeing an upturn.







Buying a puppy on Instagram: The heart-breaking story of Sushi

An animal lover shares her story of buying a puppy from an unscrupulous seller on Instagram to raise awareness to the dangers of buying without due diligence.

Sarah Woods from Liverpool experienced the heartbreak of buying a pet off Instagram after her Pomeranian puppy, Sushi died just three days after she got him.

The puppy was delivered to Sarah at 2am in the back of a van with multiple cages, and was covered in her own vomit and excrement. Her condition was critical.

Sushi’s papers stated that she had been travelling for 30 hours and it is presumed that she had not been fed or given water during this time based on how extremely malnourished and dehydrated she was.

Barely able to walk and refusing to eat, Sarah took Sushi to the local vet’s hospital the following morning, when the puppy spent the next two nights on a drip. She regained enough strength to come home, but on the third night, she lost her tragic battle and passed away.

As if this trauma wasn’t enough, Sarah then went on to receive streams of dismissive and then abusive messages from the seller via Whatsapp, who tried to blame the vets for the dog’s death, and then offered to send another puppy at a discounted price.

After investigating a little further, Sarah discovered that Sushi had travelled from Russia on a fake passport which states she is Polish, and it would appear she never had her crucial injections.

More worryingly was the fact that Sushi was just 2.5 months old – a puppy must be at least 4 months old to travel.

In an emotional Instagram video posted on 31 August, Sarah describes the ordeal and admits that she and her boyfriend were uneducated on what to do when buying a puppy but had been recommended the seller (who has multiple social media accounts with tens of thousands of followers).

Now Sarah wants to use her experience to bring awareness on what to look out for, and to hopefully help bring an end to these types of deceptive sellers abusing the system and resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent dogs every year.

Lucy’s Law came into effect in April, which prohibits the third sale of puppies in England and requires licensed breeders to show puppies interacting with the mother in their place of birth.

However, it still remains legal to import puppies into the UK to be sold. A petition was launched in June to ban puppy imports, created by Lucy Parkinson – a dog lover who decided something needed to be done to stop this from happening again.

To help ban puppy imports you can sign the petition here






RSPCA appeals for information after severely injured cat is abandoned in box

The RSPCA is appealing for information after a severely injured cat was found abandoned in a box in Bradford.

The cat was discovered on Tuesday 8 September in Hawes Road, and the member of the public who found the young white and grey cat contacted the RSPCA for help.

Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Tina Hallas is now appealing for information on how the cat came to be abandoned.

She said: “This poor cat was found under a box with a tin of opened food and some water. Sadly, her two front legs were bandaged up although it doesn’t look like this was done by a vet. She also had a cracked pelvis and a possible spinal injury as she had no feeling in her tail or backend.

“Once the bandages were unravelled the vets saw that she was missing a toe on one paw and the tissue on the leg had died. Her front leg had also been degloved. She must have been in a lot of pain when she was abandoned.

“Sadly, her injures were so severe that the vets decided that the best thing to do was to put her to sleep to end her suffering. I am now appealing for anyone with information on how the cat came to be in such a bad state, and how she was abandoned, to contact the inspectorate line on 0300 123 8018.

“There is never an excuse to abandon an animal like this and especially when they are so clearly in need of veterinary attention. It’s very distressing that this did not have a better outcome for this poor cat.”




Unwanted kittens left at vets are rescued by Mayhew

Due to coronavirus, restrictions on neutering has been common in many animal welfare organisations resulting in an increasing number of unwanted litters of kittens.

Four-month old siblings, Star, Jester and Jupiter were handed over to a private vet last month, even though the clinic had no capacity to take animals permanently.

The kittens two-year old mum Deja was also left at a different private vets along with her eleven-week-old kittens, Demi, Dottie, Dudley and Darla just a few days later.

Luckily, London based animal welfare centre, Mayhew had room in their Kitten Block and both feline families were quickly signed over into their care.

A spokesperson for Mayhew said: “Jester’s eye had been treated by the private vet prior to him arriving with us, and thankfully our intake exam showed it was healing nicely and should not pose any issues for Jester in the future.

“Star’s limp had been put down to a possible leg fracture, which we confirmed on intake. Luckily, the x-ray showed the fracture was not too severe and only required cage rest to heal, so we made sure that their little family had a single level cabin and that Jester and Jupiter did not play too rough with her.

“We also settled Deja, Demi, Dottie, Dudley and Darla down in a cosy cabin together, and were pleased to see that mum and kittens were all in excellent health.”

Although these eight cats now have a very good chance of finding their own happily ever afters’ when they are ready to go up for adoption, not every abandoned and unwanted animal will find a forever home.

A Mayhew spokesperson added: “The coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduced the number of neutering operations and other veterinary clinics across London and the UK are able to carry out, and with the threat of Covid-19 looking likely to continue well into 2021, the problems posed by animal overpopulation and abandonment are only set to get worse.

“If you are a pet owner, or a resident aware of a local feral or stray cat colony, please keep an eye out on your local veterinary clinic and animal welfare organisation websites to find out when private and community-based neutering procedures become available again.

“If your cat or dog is not neutered, we strongly advise arranging an appointment as soon as it is safe to do so. Cats can reproduce from four months old and have three to four litters per year, whilst dogs can reproduce from six to 12 months old and have four litters per year.”

For more information on Mayhew’s Trap, Neuter, Return programme visit






RSPCA rescues duck with plastic ring around neck

The RSPCA has issued a litter warning after officers rescued a domestic duck with a plastic ring stuck around its neck.

Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Lauren Bradshaw, ACO Jessica Pierce and Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) Steve Wickham attended to help the duck which was on the canal near Sellers Square in Manchester on Sunday 23 August.

The plastic ring was the type which holds beer or soft drink cans together and had been caught around the duck’s neck.

ACO Lauren said: “This is why it’s important that people dispose of their litter properly. Litter can have such a detrimental impact on our wildlife and this duck was very fortunate that the plastic ring did not cause any injuries. It’s also important to cut any plastic rings, so that if they are discarded or disposed of, they will not be able to trap animals like this.

“As water trained officers, myself and Steve entered the water at different ends of the canal. Our plan was to round-up the duck and get him to a bridge as the width of the canal is smaller there and would make it easier to catch. The plucky duck managed to escape us a couple of times but eventually we managed to net and catch him.

“Luckily, the plastic was quite loose around his neck, so the duck wasn’t injured but it was causing him discomfort. This was a domestic duck, so he was transferred to a duck sanctuary in Accrington by my colleague Jess.”

The RSPCA has received more than 21,600 reports of animals injured or caught in litter over the past five years.

The animal welfare charity is urging people who are going out more since restrictions were eased to ensure they are taking their litter home with them or disposing of it properly and responsibly.